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SunCoke Energy to halve coal production, cut 175 jobs

(Adds details, background)

Dec 15 (Reuters) - SunCoke Energy Inc, which produces coke used in steelmaking, said it would more than halve its annual coal production and cut 175 jobs due to weak prices.

The company said it would reduce its annual coal production to 500,000 tons from 1.1 million tons.

A number of coal producers have cut production as excess supply and tepid demand from China weigh on prices for metallurgical, or steel-making, coal.

SunCoke Energy, which disclosed plans to sell its coal mines in March, said on Monday that is was still pursuing opportunities to sell all or a portion of the business.

It said it was also looking at other options, including hiring contractors to mine coal or purchasing coal for its 720,000-tons Jewell Coke facility in Virginia.

The company's coal mining operations are located in Virginia and West Virginia. SunCoke did not specify where the job cuts would be.

The company had about 1,344 employees in the United States and about 233 employees at its cokemaking facility in Vitoria, Brazil as of Dec. 31, 2013.

The company plans to reduce operations at its coal preparation plant by 50 percent to reduce costs.

SunCoke Energy said plans to downsize its coal operations would result in one-time cash costs of $25 million to $35 million.

Up to Friday's close of $18.80 on the New York Stock Exchange, SunCoke Energy shares had fallen nearly 18 percent this year.

(Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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